Byron George 1788 - 1824 (36)

I only go out to get me a fresh appetite for being alone.


Maid of Athens

Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron, 22 January 1788 – 19 April 19 1824) was an English poet, representative of Romanticism. His father was a captain who had fled to Europe because of debts before George’s birth. His mother was a descendant of King Edward III of England and was forced to sell property and title of nobility to repay those debts. Byron who was born in London and had a problem with his right leg, he spent his childhood with his mother in Aberdeen, Scotland, living rather poorly. In 1798 a maternal uncle died and bequeathed all his property and the title of 6th Lord to George. His life changed radically. He studied at Cambridge University where he acquired a very good education and came into contact with the liberal ideas of his time. At the university, however, he triggered many sexual scandals, both with women and men, and had a life full of excesses. He was restless, impulsive and adventurous. In 1803 he fell madly in love with a distant cousin; this unfulfilled love found a creative expression in his first erotic poems. He received criticism for his poetry collection, he retorted with a satirical poem against the closed literary community of the country, acquiring in this way his first literary recognition.

He continued to live dissolute as in university, dividing his time between riding, boxing and gambling, accumulating huge debts. At 21 he took his place in the House of Lords, and the next year he started a long journey to Mediterranean. In 1809 he visited Greece and stayed fascinated for about 10 months. He met Ali Pasha in his seraglio, toured the monuments of Greek civilization, fell in love with the daughter of the British consul, to whom he devoted the famous poem "Maid of Athens", he swam cross the Hellespont. In 1811, sick with malaria, he returned to Britain. That year his mother died, despite their difficult relationship, he sank in sorrow. The publication of his "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" will make him famous and get him out of grief. The summer of 1813 he engaged in a sexual relationship with the married half-sister Augusta, his passion and guilt would be immortalized in a series of "dark" poems. This collections have big success bringing him enough money that are wasted in furious fun and sexual adventures. In order to escape from dissolute life and ephemeral relationships, he married in January 1815 Annabella Millbanke, a woman highly educated and cultured. In December of the same year their daughter will be born, next year the marriage is dissolved. Byron is drenched again in booze, debts and rumors about the incestuous relationship with his half-sister and his homosexual adventures. In April 1816, he left England for good. He traveled to Geneva, where he befriended with the writer Percy Shelley. He had an affair with Mairy Selley’s half sister, from which his daughter was born in England, Byron never saw her. He traveled in Switzerland and Italy writing poetic dramas and the erotic collection "Don Juan". In Italy he strongly supported the liberal movement. A new romance marked his stay there, with a 19 year old married Countess who abandoned her husband for his sake. Byron left her and went to Greece, to support the Greek struggle for independence from the Turks. He spent much of his property to help the Greek fleet’s repairing and established his own military detachment, consisting of Souli’s fighters. He remained six months in Kefalonia and then went to Messolonghi. He was in contact with British philhellenes for the conclusion of the first revolutionary loan, but he also beat the alarm for the fate of the money, as political conflicts have already broken out and he was afraid that the money will be used for political purposes and not for the liberation of the nation. In a letter in September 1823 he was complaining: "The Greeks seem to be more at risk of their discord than the attacks of the enemy." He attempted to bridge the gap between the chieftains but in February 1824 felt ill with severe fever that did not drop with any remedy. He died at Messolonghi, in April 19, at age 36